16For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that everyone who puts their trust in him will not perish, but will have eternal life. 17For God didn’t send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to make it possible for the world to be saved (made whole) through him. — John 3:16-17
Sometimes it’s a good idea to get back to basics, and that’s what I’m doing today. The first of our two verses is so familiar that I would guess many readers will be annoyed at my translation. That’s OK. Just say it to yourself from memory the way you remember it.
Got it in mind? That’s the gospel in a nutshell. God loved, God gave, we live. It’s way too simple for most of us, probably because we just don’t see how it can be as simple as it is. So we like to make conditions. God couldn’t possibly love me, I’m not good enough. I need to get much better before God will love me.
But the basic gospel says that God does love you and he did give himself for you. All you have to do is accept it. It can’t get more basic than that.
Now we don’t read the next verse nearly as often, but it’s very important too. You see, we often feel condemned just because we get close to Jesus. We see how good he is and we don’t feel up to it. But God didn’t send Jesus to condemn us, but to save us, to make us whole.
That’s just a restatement of the basics from John 3:16. God is here to save. He loves you and wants you to live eternally.
1So there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed us from the law of sin and of death. 3Because God did what the law couldn’t do because it was weak through the flesh: God sent his own Son into the world in the form of sinful flesh and he dealt with sin by condemning it in the flesh, 4so that the right requirement of the law could be fulfilled in you, who don’t live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. — Romans 8:1-4
We couldn’t do it. The rulebook couldn’t do it. Only God, both our creator and our redeemer could do it. And there you have Salvation 101.
God loved. God gave. We live.